“Our Objective is security that ensures stable and safe human, environmental and political conditions for all.” – Framework for Pacific Regionalism
The Pacific region’s security environment has become increasingly complex and diverse. All Pacific communities are potentially vulnerable to security threats whether they be from transnational crime groups, climate change, terrorism, natural disasters, political instability, and internal conflicts. If initiatives are not introduced to address these issues the impact can adversely affect domestic civil order, diminish border revenue, increase local crime, undermine the effectiveness of law enforcement and adversely impact upon the safety and livelihoods of Pacific peoples.
Pacific Islands Forum Leaders have long recognised that security and stability underpin sustainable development and economic growth. Under the 1992 Honiara Declaration, Forum Leaders noted that balanced economic and social development, the primary goal of all the countries of the region, could not be achieved without the assurance of safety and security.
The Framework for Pacific Regionalism reiterates the importance of security by identifying it as a principal objective and calling for “security that ensures stable and safe human, environmental and political conditions for all.”
In addition to the Framework for Pacific Regionalism, the key Forum Leaders’ Declarations that guide the region’s security work are:
- 1992 Honiara Declaration on Law Enforcement Cooperation: recognises that an adverse law enforcement environment could threaten the sovereignty, security and economic integrity of Forum members and jeopardise economic and social development.
- 1997 Aitutaki Declaration on Regional Security Cooperation: provides principles governing security cooperation in the region.
- 2000 Biketawa Declaration: sets the framework for regional crisis management and conflict resolution initiatives.
- 2002 Nasonini Declaration on Regional Security: recognises the need for immediate and sustained regional action in response to the current regional security environment
The Forum Secretariat recognises that there is a need and an opportunity for assistance at the regional level to support national institutions in the law and justice sector, the security sector and broader governance and accountability mechanisms. The Forum Secretariat partners with security and law enforcement institutions and officials to explore deeper cooperation and integration at the subregional and regional level that will assist in maintaining a secure environment for all.
The table (full PDF) provides an overview of the types of capacity development activities and training provided by organisations and/or programmes that operate in Forum Island countries.
A detailed list of the activities provided by law enforcement agencies to Member countries can be obtained upon request from the Forum Secretariat’s Law Enforcement Unit. Information provided is based on information submitted by the respective organisations as well as information obtained by way of research into activities performed by regional law enforcement and national agencies.
The Biketawa Declaration, on guiding principles and courses of action for regional responses to crises in the region the current roles performed by the Secretariat are:
- Provides election monitoring to Member countries;
- Oversight of Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI);
- Assessment and monitoring of political developments within members.
Under the Biketawa Declaration, which was adopted by Forum Leaders in 2000, the Programme has supported the implementation of a series of responses to conflicts and crises in the Pacific, including the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands or RAMSI (2003-2017), and the Forum’s targeted measures against Fiji (2006-2014). In addition, the Pacific Regional Assistance to Nauru or PRAN (2004-2009) was developed under the aegis of the Biketawa Declaration
The Biketawa Declaration also informs and guides the Programmes work on strengthening good governance and conflict prevention. This includes supporting members uphold democratic processes and institutions, including through electoral observation and capacity building; supporting institutions of transparency, accountability and equity; and supporting and working with members on approaches to deepen regional cooperation and integration between institutions of governance, law and justice and human rights.
The Secretariat coordinates on behalf of regional and international partners’ the Pacific Transnational Crimes Assessment (PTCA) which represents an important collaborative response by Pacific Islands Forum to combat transnational crime. The PTCA is a collaborative report highlighting transnational crime threats to the Pacific Islands Forum Members. The report seeks to identify current threats, emerging trends and ongoing regional efforts to combat transnational criminal activity in the Pacific Region. The report is develop for the FRSC meeting and relevant stakeholders meetings, with a view to informed Members.
The other role is to identify and coordinate activities such as training capacity needs assistance to combat transnational crime activities.
Consistent with global trends, transnational criminal activity has increased in the region over the last decade or so. The increasing globalised economy and resultant growth in international trade, greater mobility of people and services, and advances in communications and information technologies have resulted in the Pacific region being more prone to the impacts of transnational criminal activities. These activities include the illegal movement of people, narcotics, wildlife and goods as well as illicit financial transactions linked to money laundering. Of particular concern is the possible use of the region as a base of operations for criminal organisations and entities; increasing involvement of Pacific Island nationals in serious transnational crimes
The Secretariats role is to view and assess the strategic direction and coordination provided by a number of partner regional organisations in several specific areas as an integral part of the regional security architecture. For example; the coordination of the Pre – FRSC meeting with regional partners and international partners.
Coordination role with law enforcement Secretariats such as Oceania Customs Organisation, Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police and Pacific Immigration Directors Conference play crucial roles in coordinating the activities of Pacific Islands Forum Member law enforcement agencies (customs, police and immigration). Other organisations such as SPC, FFA, Pacific Islands Law Officers Network and SPREP provide direction and build capacity in key areas such as port security, maritime and fisheries enforcement, legal capacity development and environmental enforcement. Multi-agency law enforcement networks such as the Pacific Transnational Crimes Network (PTCN) provide real time operational support for national law enforcement agencies throughout the region.
The regional security cooperation role extends beyond to other regional development issues such as trade and economic development; fisheries; climate change and geo-political issues affecting the region when assessing these issues from a security and law enforcement implications.
The provision of security is a core responsibility of government and provides a fundamental basis for the economic, social and political development of our nations.
- Security policies in the Pacific should accommodate and be consistent with each country’s history and long-standing Pacific values, including specific and differing cultural traditions and customary structures in each nation.
- A central role of the security sector is to preserve our sovereignty and territorial integrity and uphold the rule of law, including through defending our constitutions, national laws and governance structures and safeguarding the integrity of vital national institutions including the Head of State, executive, legislature and judiciary.
- Given the inherent vulnerabilities of our nations, security personnel in the Pacific have a responsibility to support democratic traditions, defend human rights and protect, without prejudice, all citizens from harm.
- The formulation of a national security policy is a useful mechanism to: (a) ensure a collective understanding of security needs, threats and challenges; (b) set national priorities that reflect each countries’ values; and (c) determine clear roles and responsibilities in the security sector and oversight mechanisms.
- Executive government is responsible for determining security policy. Central line ministries play a key role in providing advice to Ministers on security policy (wherever possible, following public consultations with civil society organisations and the private sector), and coordinating the implementation of security policy by security institutions. Accountability to citizens should occur through media scrutiny, public consultation and debate, and regular elections.
- Effective parliamentary oversight of security institutions can assist in ensuring security services are accountable and effective in their activities, including in the expenditure of public resources.
- Independent courts and statutory bodies such as Ombudsman and Service Commissions ensure security institutions are accountable to, and compliant with the Constitution and national laws.
- Public access to information mandated by law including financial, administrative and programme management arrangements promotes transparent policymaking and practice among and within security institutions.
- Close cooperation and effective dialogue between security institutions and other government organisations is vital to ensure security services remain responsive to the common needs of citizens.
- Security services should recognise and be responsive to the different security needs of men and women by promoting gender equality and protecting vulnerable sectors of the community.
- The active participation of the media and civil society in security affairs is important to ensure citizens are well informed of the roles and actions of security services.
- Regional security is mutually beneficial for all Pacific nations and is enhanced by national security policies that recognise the importance of maintaining: a stable and secure region; and coordination and cooperation between our respective nations.
- Legislative frameworks for security institutions are essential to ensure their accountability and transparency, and to entrench the rule of law. Legislation should define the roles and responsibilities of security institutions, outline professional standards for security personnel, and establish oversight mechanisms.
- Security policies should seek to protect our communities, their environment and surrounding oceans by seeking to prevent or mitigate the risks from threats such as climate change, sea level rise, natural disasters, and non sustainable economic practices.